MONTVALE, N.J. (September 9, 2000) -- Mercedes-Benz today announced its withdrawal from the CART FedEx Championship Series, effective at the end of this season. To date, Mercedes-powered cars have won 19 races, achieved 19 pole positions, and captured the 1997 CART Manufacturers' Championship.
"We have had to re-evaluate our motorsport strategy from 2001 onwards in order to meet higher targets in the Formula One World Championship where eight manufacturers will be competing beginning in 2002," said Jürgen Hubbert, DaimlerChrysler board member responsible for Mercedes-Benz cars and motorsport activities. "We are also very keen to further develop the DTM Touring Car Series, especially in Germany, the home market of Mercedes-Benz. In order to concentrate our efforts on these two series we have to stop our CART program.
"We had a good time in CART, and experienced highlights in winning the 1994 Indy 500 and the 1997 CART Manufacturers' Championship. Mercedes-Benz expresses its gratitude to its teams -- PacWest, Mo Nunn, Bettenhausen and Arciero Project -- and wishes them all the best for the future."
Mercedes-Benz began its involvement in Champ Car racing at the 1994 Indianapolis 500, where it teamed with Roger Penske's team. In five months' time an engine was designed, constructed and developed specifically for that classic event. And once it hit the race track, Al Unser Jr. drove the Penske-Mercedes to pole position and victory.
Eighteen more race wins for Mercedes-powered cars were recorded. Mercedes-Benz worked with a total of eight teams during its CART activities. Penske Racing was the brand's main partner from 1995 to 1999, and the most successful Mercedes team (nine victories). But Mercedes-Benz also enjoyed success with PacWest Racing Group (four victories), Forsythe Racing (five victories) and Hall Racing (one win). Bettenhausen Motorsports has raced Mercedes engines since 1995.
Mercedes-Benz's FO110J V10 engines power the West McLaren Mercedes race car of two-time defending Formula One World Champion Mika Hakkinen and his teammate, David Coulthard. Hakkinen currently leads in the Drivers' Championship points standings as he seeks to win a third straight championship, and the West McLaren Mercedes team also leads in the Constructors' Championship. The Formula One World Championship (F1) returns to the United States for the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sept. 24, marking the return of F1 to American soil for the first time in nine years. Mercedes-Benz also fields race-prepared CLKs in the DTM 2000 German Touring Car Championship.